Tai Chi Health

Mind/Body Exercise with Tricia Yu

Pain, Suffering and Despair

Posted by on Mar 31, 2017 | 12 comments

Since last May, I have had Trigeminal Neuralgia. Also called the Suicide Disease, it is a rare and debilitating nerve condition that produces excruciating stabs of one-sided facial pain. Anti-seizure drugs that help the pain had serious side effects and Gamma Knife surgery — targeted radiation to stop the pain— was not successful.

For months, I was unable to drive or otherwise function and got down to 95 pounds. There was  an outpouring of support from friends, family and from neighbors who brought us food for months. Late January, I had successful Balloon Compression surgery at Mayo Clinic that damaged the trigeminal nerve and stopped the pain. I am slowly climbing back into life while adapting to the surgery’s side effects.

I did a lot of inner work while bed-ridden with pain and debilitating drug side effects. My state of mind ranged from hope to deep despair and these 7- minute exercises recorded by Kristi Rietz were a lifeline. Based on compassion practices of John Makranski, I hope that they can help uplift you as well. Heartfelt thanks, Kristi.

 Receiving Love                 Extending love

Most of us are suffering right now, both from personal pain and losses, and from despair about our country and our planet. Reality seems unreal and many of us feel that we have lost our bearings. Collectively, we are deeply divided, angry and full of blame. Although ancient wisdom and scientific evidence remind us that nothing is really separate, we continue to be driven by the same fears and the “us/them” mentality that has fueled endless suffering throughout human history.

As we travel our paths and do whatever we do, may we include essential elements of  tai chi practice in our attitudes, conversations and actions. Tai chi is not just an exercise, it is a way of life. Tai chi teaches us how to center, ground and align,  mentally, physically and spiritually. This state is ideal for dealing with pain and fear, stress and conflict, confusion and frustration. Stay focused on this practice in any situation, as often as you can remember. Move from a centered place, from the eye of the hurricane where there is stillness, rather than being swept away in the surrounding chaos.

Remember:the same elements lie within you as in the  people and actions you oppose. Nothing and nobody is truly separate.

As you Travel Your Path:

 Ponder This

If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.
HH Dalai Lama

In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.
HH Dalai Lama

“You must be the change you wish to see”
Mahatma Gandhi

She who is centered in the Tao can go where she wishes without danger.
She perceives the universal harmony, even amid great pain,
because she has found peace in her heart.
Tao Te Ch’ing

You must watch my life, how I live, eat, sit, talk, behave in general. The sum total of all those in me is my religion.
Mahatma Gandhi

Kindness is my religion.
HH Dalai Lama

Practice This

Center to get in touch with your body and your surroundings. Focus on slow, natural breathing to help calm your mind, relax your body and bring your attention into the present moment

Take a few moments to practice Centering at any time…while sitting, standing or lying down. Bring your best intention to the exercise (love, joy, wonder, compassion) then practice it as you go about your day.

  • Bring your attention into the present moment.
  • Feel the movement in your body as you breathe.
  • Sense your feet and the earth that supports all physical life.
  • Sense your head and whatever inspires and uplifts your spirit.
  • Sense your hands and fingers, feel life force within and around them.
  • Contemplate: we are all in this together.
  • Now, listen, look, smell; sense your surroundings.

Remember, you can choose to operate from your center  now and in  every moment

Love to you, Tricia


  1. Tricia–you continue to inspire, to challenge, to be a beautiful spirit, to be a beloved friend and model. I hope your progress continues as I know it will. Sending love and hugs!

  2. Thank You Tricia!
    This article is very well written and presented. It is easy to understand visually, with auditory examples.

    We are advised to meditate, told how it improves longevity, and wellbeing. You describe it step by step, without bias. I am grateful for the links you have included. Thank you so much for sharing.

    The best IS yet to come, and this is certainly an assist to getting there!

  3. Thank you for these encouraging thoughts! I count the day I first. walked into your studio one of my best.
    Be well!

  4. I’m so sorry to learn you’ve been going through such a difficult time Trisha. Sending you my love and positive chi. I look forward to a time when we might again be together practicing some Tai Chi and enjoying life. Rita

  5. Please delete my first comment! I want Tricia to know that she is an inspiration with her courage and fortitude. I love and admire her and send he healing chi every day.

  6. Thank you so much Tricia. I think of you everyday. Praying for your continued recovery. Your message is well received. Love, Jean

  7. Sending much appreciation and admiration for your courage, perseverance and self-disclosure, dear Tricia. I am so very sorry for your suffering and so glad to know there has been improvement. Your name is mentioned regularly in virtually any class I teach. You have been and continue to be a tremendous gift to a great many people. May love, light and healing surround you and your dear ones.

  8. So glad you are feeling better Tricia. You are an inspiration to all of us.

  9. Oh, Tricia, I am so happy for you that one modality has helped you. Pat C. and myself and others here in Madison have held you each Thursday in our circle of care and love. I miss your presence and I want you to know that starting Tai Chi seventeen years ago in your class here in your school in Madison was the best things I ever did. Much love to you always.

  10. Appreciate your thoughts. Love/hate is the same coin, it is our choice. Thank-you and soon, we anticipate, we may see you.

    Dave n Chris :-)

  11. Dear Tricia – even in the great suffering you have endured, you strive to relieve our suffering. And that is how this world is made a better place! Like many other commenters, taking your class back in 1989(?) was a life-changing decision for me.

  12. Hello Tricia,
    I just found you on YouTube and watched all of your videos. I love your form, your agility, your teaching style, your voice. Then I went to your website and discovered much more. It is wonderful. It is clear that you are a very respected and well-loved teacher. And I enjoyed your blog.
    I began studying Yang style in 1981 in Western Mass. with Paul Gallagher (author of Drawing Silk),who was a student of Master T.T. Liang, who had studied with Cheng Man Ching. I have taught many students since 1986 and am currently focusing on seniors, since I am now one myself. :)
    I want to share with you that your words of wisdom beautifully embody the Taoist philosophy. They are such essential reminders for us all to keep practicing our Tai Chi life art in everything we do…especially at this time.
    I wish you the blessings of renewed health. Having had Cancer twice and gone through surgeries and chemo and radiation, I can say that Tai Chi saved my life and my spirit. I feel honored to be able to continue sharing my love for Tai Chi.
    Looking forward to future blogs,
    Your Tai Chi sister,

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